Comic relief—and lots of useful tips—from a journalist with a side hustle as a county official.

SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT

WHY CURSING AT THE NEWS WON'T SAVE THE NATION, BUT YOUR NAME ON A LOCAL BALLOT CAN

A fresh and funny memoir by a progressive wife, mother, and writer/editor who ran for local office for the first time in middle age—and won—on a shoestring budget.

After the 2016 presidential election, Martini (Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously, 2010, etc.) channeled her rage into knitting pink pussyhats for the #Resist movement from her home in Oneonta, New York. When that didn’t banish her anger, she asked a locally active Democrat how else she might help, and he urged her to run against the Republican incumbent for the District 12 seat on the Otsego County Board of Representatives. As a political newbie, Martini was skeptical, but she signed on after learning that she could keep out-of-pocket costs low (“in the hundreds, not…thousands” of dollars) and continue to work for the alumni magazine for SUNY Oneonta. Local officials’ decisions, she realized, could affect people’s daily lives more than state or federal politics: “North Korea is important,” but it won’t matter “if everyone in your neighborhood has rabies because the county Board of Health has no money.” In this entertaining memoir, the author describes the highs and lows of her successful campaign and first two years of representing a rural area with about 800 voters in a “deep, deep red” county. She also chronicles her interviews with officials in other states, including Liz Walters, a member of the Summit County (Ohio) Council, who warned the author, “you go in expecting The West Wing. What you really get is a combination of Parks and Recreation and Veep.” With self-deprecating wit, Martini recalls the victories of the Otsego board, such as getting smartphones for social services workers who, until 2017, used “county-issued flip phones,” and problems like the “dark money” that floods even into small-town races. She doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges, from five-hour meetings to family time lost to doorbell-ringing, but she frequently offers strategies for meeting them, and her overall message is hopeful: Democracy works—at least at the local level.

Comic relief—and lots of useful tips—from a journalist with a side hustle as a county official.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24763-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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